Time for NATO to Close Its Door
The Alliance Is Too Big—and Too Provocative—for Its Own Good
DURING the last fifteen months the British Government would seem to have outdone itself in hesitation, vacillation and alterations of policy. In France we are in the habit of paying homage to the empirical genius of our English friends. But we take empiricism to mean action which is inspired by an attentive observation of facts. An empiricist is not satisfied with ready-made ideas; he must be modest and prudent, yet intelligent; he is not necessarily pusillanimous. The empirical process is logical, rigorous, disciplined. It does not lead to the practice of diplomacy in accordance with fixed conceptions, as is sometimes the French manner, nor does it nourish bold projects and grandiose ambitions of the sort which characterize modern Germany. But it is not confusion and weakness. For the moment we refuse British policy the bright appellation of "empirical." At the same time we express the hope that it may speedily transform itself and again deserve the name; for we are convinced that this is the price of European peace. What follows is a justification of this judgment.
After the close of the World War the British people quickly showed what was to be its tendency with regard to the peace which had just been won. The definitions used by its ruling class were not always very clear; but the instinctive wish evidently was that all peoples, victors and vanquished alike, should forthwith devote themselves to acquiring the greatest possible degree of material well-being. The free exchange of goods, of services, of capital; unrestricted travel and intellectual intercourse; disarmament as far as possible; the elimination of every distinction between loser and victor as a result of a gradual and mutually acceptable revision of the treaties of peace, resulting, in turn, in the substitution of "spiritual frontiers" for the old physical frontiers -- such was the ideal. It furnished the justification for the League of Nations which had just been founded at the entreaty of President Wilson. A majority of the countries already possessed democratic and parliamentary régimes. Those which had lingered under authoritarian governments tried to give evidence of conforming to the general norm. Even Russian bolshevism came to put aside a little of its first rigor. The idea was generally accepted that the wish to wage war and to make conquests belonged only to more or less absolute sovereigns and their narrow military and diplomatic cliques. The masses were supposed to be interested only in material advantages. Liberty, bread, play -- this would be the motto of the human race now that it was rid of its tyrants.
One should read over again today the pages which J. M. Keynes wrote on the morrow of the Treaty of Versailles. They show us how at that time Mr. Britling saw the world. In 1919 I passed my holidays with a man who still is a force in British public life. There was with us a friend (now a celebrated dramatist) who had just accepted a position as London correspondent for a great French newspaper. The job interested him, but he expressed regret that he did not possess a wider knowledge of history in order to fill it better. "Don't let that worry you," said the English politician. "Your ignorance is an advantage. We are starting with a tabula rasa. The old passions have ceased to count. Precedents no longer have any value."
The cathedral built from these illusions, and bearing the names of "Saints" Briand, Stresemann and Chamberlain, has collapsed. The first two are dead without leaving any disciples. The third has had to change his mind on many problems, and anyway no longer wears the ministerial mantle. At a certain moment, he would have asked us to include Mussolini in the company of titular saints; but since then the Italian has given a resounding kick to those who wanted to label him an apostle of peace.
The area where parliamentary institutions and democracy prevail has now been reduced to the territories of ten or a dozen states. Free trade has ceased. No country buys abroad more than is strictly necessary, and each tries to come as near as possible to autarchy, calculating that in view of the armed conflict which lies ahead each must be independent of the others. The mechanism of the gold standard no longer regulates production either inside states or in international trade. The common denominator -- international money -- has disappeared. Governments use decrees to supplant the freedom of initiative which the gold standard used to foster. Everywhere the demagogues flourish, able easily to sacrifice their subjects on bloody altars and yet in a position to claim that they hold their unshakable affection. In comparison with the new party dictatorships the despots of previous centuries seem gentle and easy-going. The governments of Germany, Italy and Soviet Russia hold their subjects in a permanent state of mobilization. Everywhere preparations for war are being feverishly carried on, and in the totalitarian states they dominate the whole national economy. Public opinion is manufactured to order like any other sort of merchandise. There is no theory too absurd for the dictators to adopt and propagate. In 1911 Kiderlen-Wächter said to Jules Cambon: "A well-conducted press campaign can implant any sort of folly in the German mind in four months." Alas, he was right. The demands of the Berlin government, which play so great a part in setting the tone of European life, are neither rational nor restrained. They are dominated by the thesis that the Germans are a pure race of peculiar worth, and that the Führer is an infallible person who not only makes policy but creates right. Which is to say that German policy is governed by metaphysical considerations. "Mein Kampf" -- that new political bible, henceforward not only to be taught in the schools and preached in the pulpits but even to be placed as the complete guide to life in the hands of each newly-married couple -- sets as the German objective the annihilation of France and the establishment in Europe of a nation of 250 million Germans.
In short, the world of today has no relation to the ideology which the English accepted just after the war and which they have held to during the intervening years. Having sunk Germany's fleet and appropriated most of the German colonies, they thought in 1919 that a period of repose was opening before them. They reduced their army and air force to a size which would enable them to undertake only small colonial expeditions. The navy was neglected. The problem which now faces Britain is to reconstruct her power and recast her policy so as to bring it into harmony with the actual situation existing in the rest of the world. For two years Mr. Baldwin and his colleagues undoubtedly have seen this necessity. But they have not known how to proceed. So far they have succeeded only in giving the world a spectacle of myopia and confusion.
We may consider that a whole period ended on October 14, 1933, when Germany abandoned the League of Nations. Six months later, April 17, 1934, M. Barthou, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Doumergue cabinet, sent his famous note to London rejecting the disarmament project which the British and German Governments then seemed ready to accept. This decision of the French Government has been much criticized. It was made on the recommendation of MM. Herriot and Tardieu, the two Ministers of State who had been assigned the task of studying the question; M. Barthou himself and the staff of the Quai d'Orsay favored further temporizing. Personally, I am persuaded that the ministry had no choice but to act as it did. The French Army was organized at that time on the basis of a one-year term of service, with recruits called up semi-annually in April and October (which meant that they could not be given any real instruction). The army was in fact excessively weak, weaker than most foreigners have ever suspected. Readoption of the two-year service was evidently going to become necessary at an early date, and this in itself would have prevented us from signing the proposed agreement. Unlike Germany, France does not possess quasi-military organizations to compensate for weaknesses in the regular military establishment.
The two principal features of the system which London devised, and which evidently attracted Berlin, were very disquieting to France. The first proposal was for the international control of effectives. Would this control prove really effective in Germany, where all lips are sealed by espionage and police repression and where it is almost impossible to draw any clear line of demarcation between the army proper, the various quasi-military formations, and the mass of the population? The second feature was the proposal to suppress so-called offensive arms. No one who believes that Germany, possessing a far greater capacity for industrial production than any other European country, will choose the date and the site of the next war, can help fearing that she will arrange to come into that war equipped with whatever engines her opponents have destroyed and which they therefore would have to manufacture or procure elsewhere after the struggle had already commenced. I do not mean that an effective international control would not obviate this danger. We simply do not believe in the possibility of an effective international control in dictatorial countries. (I have felt bound to try to clarify this matter because our policy regarding it is often attacked in England. Lord Lothian, for example, often expatiates on it in order to establish the "sincerity" of Adolph Hitler. But I believe that in the British Foreign Office itself there are many who recognize at the bottom of their hearts the justice of the French position.)
During all of 1934 Anglo-French relations were stalemated. MM. Doumergue and Barthou would certainly have welcomed a chance to coöperate with England. But they could not persuade themselves that anything was to be expected from Mr. Mac-Donald and Sir John Simon, who on October 14, 1933, had shown only dismay when Berlin rose up against the League of Nations. The French Ministers therefore devoted their principal attention to developing a rapprochement with Soviet Russia and to the attempt to bring about a reconciliation between Italy and the Little Entente, which obviously became a particularly urgent matter following the assassination of Chancellor Dollfuss either at the direct or indirect instigation of Berlin. As far as England was concerned, their sole ambition was to get the Foreign Office to ratify the peace structure which they were seeking to effect in Eastern Europe. For it goes without saying that, without assurance of English benevolence and even of English aid, France could not carry out whatever engagements she might make at the other end of the continent. Matters nevertheless became worse. On October 9, 1934, King Alexander of Jugoslavia and M. Barthou were assassinated at Marseilles. The Saar plebiscite was approaching.
It was then that Sir John Simon, stopping over in Paris en route to a holiday on the Côte d'Azur, visited M. Laval and invited him as well as Prime Minister Flandin to come to London. "It will be useful," he said, "to demonstrate the friendship of the two countries." Thus came about the Franco-British conference held at the end of January 1935, climaxed by the famous communiqué of February 3. The two governments agreed upon the conditions under which Germany could legalize her secret rearmament at least in part, and consequently take her place again inside the framework of international law. The formulas were complex but the conceptions were simple enough. The German Government was asked, in return for being granted a large military force, to participate in various pacts of mutual assistance which would assure the defeat of any aggressor and so prevent aggression: a western air pact, to be superimposed on the Locarno Pact in order to dissipate the aërial danger which in 1925 had not been envisaged in its true proportions; a pact of mutual assistance for Northeastern Europe; and a pact for Central Europe aimed at safeguarding Austrian independence. These pacts were the essentials of the project. But at the very last session of the conference a misunderstanding became visible. "What will you do if Germany refuses or withdraws?" asked MM. Flandin and Laval. "Will you conclude the western air pact with France even without Germany, thereby demonstrating to everybody the solidarity of the two great states of western Europe?" Sir John Simon hesitated to commit himself. He replied obliquely that these circumstances would create a new situation, that it would be necessary to consult afresh, etc. Then the Permanent Under-Secretary of the Foreign Office, Sir Robert Vansittart, intervened with the following remark addressed to Sir John: "If we are not now prepared to sign the Western Air Pact with or without Germany, it would have been better to have abstained from producing our plan." The French ministers left London convinced that Sir Robert's remark indicated the direction in which the British cabinet would proceed. But Mr. Anthony Eden was immediately charged to make a declaration in the Commons that reserved the freedom of British policy.
The sequel of this story is well-known. Hitler not only refused to have anything to do with the Franco-British proposal of February 3, but on March 9 he officially attached to the Reichswehr the military aviation force which Germany had illegally created in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Further, on March 16 he solemnly declared that the German Government no longer considered itself bound by the terms of that Treaty. The only reply of the British ministry to this provocation was to send Sir John Simon and Mr. Eden to Berlin. It had been originally planned to send these two gentlemen to the German capital to discuss the proposals of February 3, namely the conditions under which the Reich's illegal rearmament could be legalized. The Reich settled the question by arbitrarily appropriating to itself the stakes in the game. Hitler thus confronted England and France with a fait accompli. The basis for the negotiation had disappeared. Nevertheless, the two members of the British cabinet, just as if nothing had happened, put themselves to the trouble of visiting Hitler in order to learn his inclination and to parade before him their own perplexities. The Führer took the occasion to say this sort of thing to them: "When Wellington saw Blücher arrive on the battlefield at Waterloo, did he ask him if his army had been raised entirely in conformity with existing treaties?"
For all this backing and filling the British tried to plead extenuating circumstances, emphasizing to France that the military clauses of the Versailles Treaty had already been dead for some time. But this was not the question. The issue was not the British signature of June 28, 1919, but the British agreement of February 3, 1935. Sir John Simon had promised to consult first with the French in the event a new situation arose. But he refused to come to Paris before going to Berlin. The most that he would do was reluctantly to send Mr. Eden to try to assuage M. Laval's anger.
The end of the chapter is not pleasant. Sir John joined with very poor grace in the theoretical condemnation of Germany voted by the League Council on April 17, following the futile Stresa Conference. He imposed several amendments, and later put obstacles in the way of the committee appointed by the Council to study measures to be taken against states which in the future repudiate their obligations by unilateral action. On the other hand, he hurriedly rose to the bait which Hitler had offered him at Berlin -- recognition of Britain's maritime supremacy. This was embodied in the Anglo-German Naval Treaty of June 18. I have already discussed this treaty in these pages,[i] so that it is unnecessary to repeat my views. I need only point out that up to the present time the British have not succeeded in obtaining information regarding the German naval building program, nor do they know how rapidly it is to be carried out. As the price for so many recantations Sir John did not in the end obtain a single real concession on behalf of European peace. The Führer agreed that Germany would permit states with which she signed nonaggression pacts to enter also into mutual assistance pacts in which Germany herself did not participate (declaration of Herr von Neurath to Sir Eric Phipps on April 12, 1935). But it seems doubtful whether even this advantage -- if it is one -- has been gained definitely, for the British questionnaire sent to Berlin on May 7, 1936, had to raise the subject all over again. The fact is that Germany seems to look on bilateral pacts as useful instruments for preventing the various nations from forming a circle around an eventual aggressor.
The Naval Treaty of June 18 may be considered as Sir John Simon's final important act. After the jubilee festivities were over he had to abandon the Foreign Office to Sir Samuel Hoare. Alarmed by the turn affairs were taking in Europe, and unable to make anything of the government's moves and countermoves on the diplomatic chessboard, the most active segment of British public opinion began to find serious fault with the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister. It was at this moment that the results of the "Peace Ballot" were announced. If a general election had been held just then most competent observers agree that the cabinet would have been defeated. Throughout his career as minister Sir John Simon had revealed only a mediocre character. In 1914 as Attorney General in the Asquith cabinet he voted for entrance into the war; he voted with great damage to his conscience, but he voted nevertheless. Two years later, when it became evident that the war would be lost if the British people did not resign itself to conscription, his scruples reawoke and this time overcame him. This man who willed the end did not will the means. The episode summarizes him completely. History will recount that with him came to an end the postwar British policy of easy optimism and hopefulness; that when the walls began to topple he made vague efforts to persuade France to adopt a common policy with England, but then shrank back; and that he left only ruins to his successors.
With the advent of Sir Samuel Hoare and the Italian aggression in East Africa began a second effort to reconstruct British foreign policy. When the first Italian bombs fell on Abyssinian villages on October 3, 1935, Italy violated four treaties: the tripartite convention of 1906 in which England, France and Italy regulated their respective economic interests and undertook to maintain the independence of the Empire of the Negus; the Covenant of the League of Nations; the Briand-Kellogg Pact; and the Italo-Abyssinian treaty of friendship of 1928. It was a wholesale attack on international law. But the conflict did not exist only between Italy and the League of Nations. England herself was directly provoked. Mr. Eden went to Rome at the end of June to remonstrate with Signor Mussolini, but the reply he got was in effect that England no longer could speak as mistress of the Mediterranean.
At first the Baldwin-Hoare government seemed resolved to take up the gauntlet. During the first half of September a large part of the British fleet was concentrated between Gibraltar and Alexandria. Great Britain up to then had always interpreted Article 10 of the Covenant (providing for sanctions against an aggressor) in a most limited sense; now she suddenly passed over to the opposite attitude and threatened her adversary with military sanctions. On September 24, after a cabinet meeting in Downing Street, Sir Robert Vansittart asked France to join in the precautionary naval measures taken by Great Britain on the basis of Paragraph 3 of Article 16; and on the same day the British Naval Attaché at Paris made a similar démarche at the Ministry of the Marine. I shall not deal here with the conduct of M. Laval, who in Rome on January 7, 1935, had given Mussolini a free hand in Ethiopia, and who subsequently always accorded Italy a wholly unjustified priority in French policy -- unjustified relative to France's other political associates, England, the Little Entente, the Balkan Entente and Soviet Russia, not to mention the League of Nations itself. Here was where M. Laval missed the chance of chaining London to an interpretation of the Covenant which exactly coincided with French aspirations; for the interpretations which could have been extracted from England at that moment would have held Pan-Germanism in check by the menace of automatic action and the massing of superior forces. Instead M. Laval took the heart out of Britain's new determination in international affairs and set up a formidable current of hostility against France.
But what can be said of Mr. Baldwin and the majority of his colleagues? Ought they to have mobilized the British fleet if they were not determined, having adopted that course, to go through with it to the very end, even to blockading the Red Sea? In the first half of September should they have conceded to M. Laval that there would be no recourse to military coercion? And when M. Laval, wishing to pin them down on this, offered them all the economic sanctions en bloc, why not have taken him at his word instead of deciding that it was better to apply them gradually one after the other? What a strange spectacle it was! On one hand a deafening warlike tumult. On the other a naïve, almost timid, assurance that Italy could be brought back into the international order without subjecting her to too violent pressure. The theory was that the Italo-Abyssinian military operations would take so long that there would be time for the gradual application of sanctions to ruin Italy; that it was possible to temporize in the enforcement of "collective security;" that the fifty states members of the League could act nonchalantly, to suit their own convenience; that there was no need for a given state or group of states to assume greater risks than others took; that all the fifty states must keep in step, like dancers on the stage, for fear lest the performance of one might surpass that of the others. The legal lights of Geneva, firmly convinced that London had decided to utilize its full powers, had drawn up (October 7) a procedure for determining the aggressor that left the widest possible latitude to the initiative of individual states. It was decided not to have a vote of the Council but simply declarations by sovereign states. By means of the Coördination Committee (a diplomatic conference legally distinct from the League itself), Sir Samuel Hoare strove to blend British action with collective action. Then one fine day, in doubt whether he could count on France if the oil sanction were imposed and the British fleet attacked, he threw himself into the famous compromise of December 8. What Sir Samuel Hoare really hoped from collective action was to secure all the advantages of war and at the same time all the advantages of peace. The fact that fifty states are supposed to act in concert was shown to mean that each need put forth a minimum of effort.
When it came to planning the details of application the same naïveté was shown. The Jugoslavs promised their aid in case of hostilities; but when they asked, as was natural, what part the British naval and air forces would take in protecting the Dalmatian coast, the British military experts replied coldly that the subject did not interest them. In the same way the French general staff had to spend much time making London understand what enormous responsibilities, both on land and on sea, in Africa and in Europe, France would have to fulfill in case of war with Italy. No wonder Geneva could not prevail against Italy. The League of Nations is not a metaphysical divinity. It is subject to physical laws. If this ordeal means that England has rid herself of a dangerous myth to the contrary, then the price will not have been too high. The reform of the League of Nations is not to be achieved in the Covenant but in the mind and the heart of the ministers who must carry it out.
Signor Mussolini's brutal sense of reality, the ramblings of French and British policy, were not slow in producing their effects. Hitler was offered a great opportunity. He seized it with alacrity. On March 7, overruling the Reichswehr generals who told him that the new German military machine was not yet prepared for war, he ordered the reoccupation of the demilitarized zone of the Rhine, thereby tearing up the Locarno Pact just as a year before he had scrapped the military clauses of Versailles. The moment was well chosen. In England, a scant month after the elections, the prestige of the ministry had already been shaken by its enemies' accusation that it had asked and received the country's confidence under false pretenses. In France M. Laval had confused public opinion by his efforts to favor Germany and Italy against England, the Little Entente and Soviet Russia. Nevertheless, all could have been saved if the Sarraut-Flandin ministry had held to its decision (made and communicated to Mr. Eden on March 3) to mobilize three classes of reserves and to seize German territory as security. Asked to give immediate support to the French Army as stipulated in Article 4, Paragraph 3 of the Locarno Pact, England wriggled out. I ask anyone who inclines to quarrel with my statement to reread the text: the engagement was categorical. Today we know that if the French Army had crossed the frontier, the Reichswehr would not have accepted battle: it had received the order to evacuate the demilitarized zone. Would the Hitler régime have survived this humiliation? At any rate, the opportunity was lost.
Though this mistake can be charged to France -- incidentally MM. Sarraut and Flandin probably did their best, but were hampered by the public's apathy -- what about the operations of the British cabinet? It was composed of men who, taken one by one, might be called eminent. Considered collectively, they gave the impression of being directed by Mr. Pickwick in person. On March 10, Mr. Eden, the new Foreign Secretary, arrived in Paris with Lord Halifax. Their surprising thesis was that as the Treaty of Locarno had just been eliminated by the action of one of the signatory governments, there was nothing left but to negotiate another treaty of the same sort with the same government. As Mr. Titulesco remarked, this meant that the Locarno Treaty became null and void on the very instant there took place the event in anticipation of which the Treaty had been made. Mr. Eden, Lord Halifax, and Mr. Neville Chamberlain (successor-designate, to all intents and purposes, of Mr. Baldwin) wound up by recognizing that the result of the coup of March 7 was to transform the Locarno agreement into a sort of pact of solidarity between England, France, Belgium, and even Italy (that is, when Italy should have come to terms with Geneva!) for the defense of the status quo in the Rhineland. But while the English cabinet on March 9 spontaneously recognized the obligation to support France and Belgium if they were attacked, it neglected the other duty formulated in the contract of 1925: it refused to apply financial and economic sanctions against Germany in order to reëstablish the demilitarized zone. Its pretext was that the mass of the British people opposed a continuance of the former inequality of rights between France and Germany. But on this last point it contradicted itself. In the "propositions" accepted by France, England, Belgium and Italy (who did not ratify them) on March 19, the British cabinet agreed that in the course of the pending negotiations they would press "for the adoption of provisions intended to prohibit or to limit the subsequent establishment of fortifications in a zone to be determined." Likewise, the first paragraph of the letter delivered by the Foreign Office on April 3 to the ambassadors of France and Belgium refers to this same question. "His Majesty's Government," the letter read, "will at once consider . . . the steps to be taken to meet the new situation" which would be created "if the effort of conciliation [proposed March 19] . . . should fail."
Today there clearly exists only one way to prevent the Reichswehr from fortifying the Rhine -- by war. Did Mr. Baldwin and his colleagues really wish to commit themselves to that? No; they believed, contrary to all probabilities, that by persuasion they could extract the necessary promise either from Herr von Ribbentrop or from Hitler himself. And now that their illusions have been dispelled, they are seeking to trade off the clause forbidding the fortification of the Rhineland (already violated by the Reichswehr) in return for Germany's participation in a system of mutual assistance providing security in Central and Eastern Europe. Obviously the fortification of the Rhineland would greatly disturb the effectiveness of any plan of mutual assistance between France, the Little Entente and Soviet Russia, since it would permit the Reich to hold the French forces in check with a few hundred thousand men while it used the bulk of its man power to overwhelm the rest of the continent. But it is entirely unlikely that England will persuade Berlin to participate in a really effective system of mutual assistance for Central and Eastern Europe.
Of course England should never have thought of the Rhineland coup as a question of "equal rights" but as another step in Germany's preparation for war -- Winston Churchill's thesis. From now on the question becomes whether the governments of London and Paris will permit the preponderance of material forces to pass to Germany. The French army is still superior to the German; but in twelve or eighteen months this superiority will have disappeared. After having let herself slip into an alarming state of military weakness, will England be able to speed up her rearmament, and, with the other associates of France, fill in the gap? This is the whole problem. No other exists. All the current diplomatic conversations about other matters are purely ornamental. On January 12, at the close of a Council presided over by General von Blomberg, the Reichswehr generals had to recommend caution to Hitler. If the day ever comes when they can say to him: "You are the stronger!" -- on that day European peace is finished. Irresistibly Hitler will undertake to make over European law just as he has already made over German law. We French and English, practically without exception, hate and dread war. We feel that our common civilization would very likely perish if there were another war, and that the consequences of the collapse would be like what happened to Greco-Latin society during the fifth and sixth centuries. We are not justified in imagining that Hitler has any such sentiment. Europe has entered into an era in which military power ready for instant use counts more than any other element.
Looking back over this outline of British diplomacy one discovers a dominant factor -- public opinion. During the postwar years the English people, immersed in its daily occupations and pleasures, paid no attention to what was going on in the rest of the world. That in the end it awoke is something, maybe a great deal. But this public opinion constitutes a force which is illogical, sentimental, capricious. The fact that it is quiescent at one moment seems only to mean that the next moment it will break out in all the greater fury. Its highs and lows are unpredictable. It has no fixed point of reference. Yet as it gyrates it carries both Parliament and cabinet with it. This is dangerous, because Germany and those who are determined to resist her will both count on having British opinion on their side; and in the end one or the other will necessarily have been deceived. It is as though a badly stowed cargo could sink the European ship by shifting violently from side to side, now to starboard, now to port, like a sort of battering-ram. Unless the English ministers have the wisdom and knowledge necessary to inform and guide the sentimental and impressionable mass which is English opinion there can be no long-term accord between Paris and London. And a long-term accord (a "deterrent" as Mr. Baldwin has often repeated) is indispensable if events are to be held under control. The question is whether Mr. Baldwin and his colleagues are capable of evolving a well-rounded doctrine on the problem of war and peace. Can they decide to live otherwise than from day to day? Their talk, both public and private, makes us wonder. As far as western Europe and the Rhine frontier are concerned, it seems now that a certain point of view has taken shape and must in the end prevail over alternative policies -- and in this regard Mr. Eden's courageous speech in the Commons on March 26 marks the decisive turning point. Ever since June 1934 Mr. Baldwin had spoken in much the same terms; but on December 13 last he declared again in the Commons that he doubted whether England would be serving the interests of peace by making known in advance that she would range herself in one camp rather than the other!
England will not let France, Belgium and Holland succumb. The current question is whether she will disinterest herself from the general problem of Pan-Germanism, leave things along and beyond the Danube to chance, and forget that the war which she won in 1918 was above all, to use Count Sforza's energetic expression, the war of the Austrian Succession. Those who speak thoughtlessly of abolishing Articles 10 and 16 of the Covenant answer these questions in the affirmative. Have they reflected on what would happen to us in the west of Europe if next door to us there again should arise German Mittel-Europa? Uncertainty is no longer permissible. London must make up its mind one way or the other. Once some stable notions become firmly planted in the minds of the ministers, and percolate through them into the national mind, we may hope for the dawn of the conviction that in crucial moments certain risks must be accepted if greater risks are to be avoided. This lesson must also be learnt by the French Government and by the French people. If not, the virtuosi of the "fait accompli," the Hitlers and Mussolinis, will push the world over into the abyss.
[i] FOREIGN AFFAIRS, October 1935.